More than 400 demonstrators, many religious leaders and activists, came together calling for an end to detention and deportation of migrants
Kneeling in front of riot police, 32 religious leaders and activists were arrested at the US border fence in San Diego on Monday during a protest in support of the Central American migrant caravan.
More than 400 demonstrators, many leaders of churches, mosques, synagogues and indigenous communities, called for an end to detention and deportation of migrants and for the United States to welcome the caravan that arrived in Tijuana, Mexico in November.
Singing and praying, religious leaders moved forward in lines of four to six, some wearing t-shirts reading “Love knows no borders”. They were handcuffed and led away by federal agents once they entered a restricted area in front of the fence.
“As a Quaker who believes in our shared humanity, We’re calling on the US to respect the rights of migrants,” said Joyce Ajlouny, general secretary of Quaker group the American Friends Service Committee, which organized the protest.
Border Patrol spokesman Eduardo Olmos said 31 people were arrested on suspicion of trespassing by the Federal Protective service and one was arrested by the Border Patrol for assaulting an agent.
The rally held on a beach divided by the border wall was the second confrontation for Border Patrol agents since a caravan of more than 6,000 migrants, predominantly Hondurans, reached Tijuana last month. A confrontation with rock-throwers from Mexico led to US agents firing tear gas into Mexico on 25 November and a five-hour closure of the nation’s busiest border crossing.
Thousands of migrants are living in crowded tent cities in Tijuana after undertaking a grueling journey from Central America to the US border. Many face waiting weeks or months in Mexico while they apply for asylum. The US is processing up to about 100 claims a day at the San Diego crossing, which is creating a backlog.
The demonstration Monday was meant to launch a national week of action called “Love Knows No Borders: A moral call for migrant justice,” which falls between Human Rights Day on Monday, and International Migrants’ Day on 18 December, the group said.
“Showing up to welcome and bless children, mothers and fathers seeking asylum from very difficult and dehumanizing circumstances is the right and humane thing to do,” said Bishop Minerva G Carcano, from the San Francisco Area United Methodist Church. “How we act in these moments determines who we will become as a nation.”
The group also is calling on Congress to defund Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.
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